People are needlessly dying from meningitis because they believe a rash is the main or only symptom, according to a poll.
Some 71 per cent of more than 1,300 adults thought a rash was the most prominent sign while 11 per cent of people could not list any symptoms at all.
The Meningitis Trust, which carried out the poll, warned that a rash which does not fade under pressure is a key sign of blood poisoning, but does not always appear. When it does, it can be one of the last symptoms to arrive and it is frequently "too late".
The charity said meningitis can start with flu-like symptoms including a fever, headache, vomiting and muscle pain. Other signs are a fever accompanied by cold hands and feet, drowsiness, confusion, pale, blotchy skin, stiff neck, a dislike of bright lights and seizures.
Babies are often floppy and unresponsive, dislike being touched and suffer rapid breathing or have a moaning cry.